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The Impact of Saharan Dust and Black Carbon on Albedo and Long-term Glacier Mass Balance : Volume 9, Issue 1 (24/02/2015)

By Gabbi, J.

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Book Id: WPLBN0004023156
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 43
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: The Impact of Saharan Dust and Black Carbon on Albedo and Long-term Glacier Mass Balance : Volume 9, Issue 1 (24/02/2015)  
Author: Gabbi, J.
Volume: Vol. 9, Issue 1
Language: English
Subject: Science, Cryosphere, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany
Member Page: Copernicus Publications


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Gabbi, J., Schwikowski, M., Huss, M., Cao, F., & Bauder, A. (2015). The Impact of Saharan Dust and Black Carbon on Albedo and Long-term Glacier Mass Balance : Volume 9, Issue 1 (24/02/2015). Retrieved from

Description: Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland. Light-absorbing impurities in snow and ice control glacier melt as shortwave radiation represents the main component of the surface energy balance. Here, we investigate the long-term effect of snow impurities, i.e. Saharan dust and black carbon (BC), on albedo and glacier mass balance. The analysis was performed over the period 1914–2014 for two sites on Claridenfirn, Swiss Alps, where an outstanding 100 year record of seasonal mass balance measurements is available. Information on atmospheric deposition of mineral dust and BC over the last century was retrieved from two firn/ice cores of high-alpine sites. A combined mass balance and snow/firn layer model was employed to assess the dust/BC-albedo feedback. Compared to pure snow conditions, the presence of Saharan dust and BC lowered the mean annual albedo by 0.04–0.06 and increased melt by 15–19% on average depending on the location on the glacier. BC clearly dominated absorption which is about three times higher than that of mineral dust. The upper site has experienced mainly positive mass balances and impurity layers were continuously buried whereas at the lower site, surface albedo was more strongly influenced by re-exposure of dust-enriched layers due to frequent years with negative mass balances.

The impact of Saharan dust and black carbon on albedo and long-term glacier mass balance

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